Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 15 Jul 2015, and is filled under Uncategorized.

Blood

Last week’s remembrance of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London presented the usual suspects with a nice, slow-moving bandwagon they couldn’t wait to climb on. Cameron looked solemn, Boris looked like a solemn reactionary wearing the thin disguise of a buffoon and just about everyone banged on about how we mustn’t forget, as it’s the kind of thing you can say without actually saying anything.

Remembrance is a whore of a concept, apt to lift its skirts to anyone. What do you want to remember? Something comfortably abstract, probably, or, if you’re so minded, that the victims cry out for vengeance and want you to bomb Syria, Libya or Iran. Or maybe all three. If you’re especially stupid and fond of simple answers, then remembrance means something about Muslims that you and your idiot friends can toss over on Facebook.

I hate the idea of public remembrance, of displays of piety, because it’s all so fake and unfeeling. While he’s laying that wreath or coming out with some bland gibberish his SpAd wrote for him, he’s wondering if he left the iron on, or how this will be playing with Mondeo Man, or some other joyless archetype that was shat out of a pollsters’ computer.

What he’s pointedly not doing is remembering the pain, the loss, the confusion, the bewilderment, the anger and the pure, aching sadness that comes with terrorism because that might make people feel uncomfortable. And that, in turn, might lead us to ask difficult questions of ourselves and about how we behave in the world, and of our leaders, and wonder who they’re actually leading for and on behalf of.

My friend was murdered on that day, in the bus, as it negotiated its way through Tavistock Square. I’d happily go without ever seeing the image of the bus used again, often lazily, by people who can’t be arsed to search for another image or who want, equally lazily, to make some kind of point. It was overused on July 7 until it became bland until my utter hatred of it became almost banal. One thing it did do, however, was make me want to remember my friend with something approaching meaning.

What I did was decide to gibe blood the day after. My friend was never heard to express an opinion about giving blood and may not even have done so if it was me and not her that was flayed to death with someone else’s shin bones, but it felt like an infinitesimally small, crap way of making the world slightly better than it was when I got up. I signed up to do it again, in 90 days’ time, partly in remembrance of her and partly because it just seems right.

Giving blood felt a bit like jury service. Everyone is there, from every strand of society and, rather than being randomly selected, everyone has a reason. Someone’s mum died of cancer. Someone’s dad always gave blood as he thought it was important and now they do, too. Someone else does it purely because it seems right. And the list goes on. Everybody has a reason and, as the most you’ll get is sugary tea, a biscuit and pestered to make another appointment, rather than someone weeping and rending their garments in gratitude, they’re pretty good reasons.

It was, unlike the public protestations of remembrance, utterly low key. They turned up, read magazines, gave blood and went home. They each left behind a pint of blood that will go into someone they’ll never meet in circumstances they will hopefully never experience.

Looking at Cameron et al and contemplating the garbled nonsense of remembrance makes me hate humanity.

Looking around the hall made me love it again.

 

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